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Mr Love & Justice

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (22 April 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: ADA [Wea 1-Stop Account]
  • ASIN: B0014DBZSI
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,509,850 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Mr Bragg has previously been accused of trying to set Clause Four to music. And maybe he has at times with varying success. There should, however, be little contention about his towering songwriting abilities. Beauties such as "St Swithin's Day", the eternal "New England", the magnificent "Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards" and even some of the album tracks off the last 2 albums ("Sugar Daddy", "He'll Go Down") have showed some bite where mellowness may have set in.

"Mr Love & Justice" starts off rather well. "I Keep Faith" is not particularly arresting for anything on initial appearance but it does eventually charm you with a soulful lightness of touch and the sweet sound of Robert Wyatt's backing vocals. This stands up there with some of his finest.
Elsewhere highlights are "Sing Their Souls Back Home" which by rights could make you cringe but it somehow doesn't. "The Johnny Carcinogenic Show" works rather well tackling the calorific golden arches. "O Freedom" is Bragg at his most incisive.
However elsewhere things are either a little bland or have a wall of ugly guitar over them. The Blokes as a backing band seem to have lost their deftness and seem to clunk about like a drunk Crazy Horse.
"I Almost Killed You" passes by forgettably. The title track sounds like we've been here before. "Farm Boy" doesn't do much one way or the other.

The solo take on the songs does bring out more interest and some of the bear up well under this treatment.

Perhaps it's all a bit unfair. Life does change and you couldn't maybe expect a "Levi Stubbs Tears".
But there is a bit of blandness knocking around in the over. So whither Billy Bragg? This is not an overly arresting album but it is not without its charm.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a bit like meeting an old friend and catching up with their life and times. Interesting, funny, moving and going on a bit by turns, Bragg is a real person. There is more than enough here to engage with and enjoy. The Blokes are restrained and on form and the solo versions offer different perspectives on some great new songs. A couple of duds can't spoil the pleasure of spending some time with Bill again.
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Format: Audio CD
Although it's been six years since his last album England Half English, Billy Bragg is one artist who you can`t accuse of being lazy. Since releasing that LP, Billy has written a book The Progressive Patriot, made or appeared on countless TV and radio programmes and played numerous regular and low-key gigs and benefits around the World. And now he has brought out not just one new album buy two...

Yes the Deluxe Edition version of Mr. Love & Justice comes with two discs - the band version recorded with Billy's group The Blokes and a solo rendition of the same songs with Billy on vocals and crunchy electric guitar. Recorded after the band versions, the solo recordings will delight those from Billy's fanbase who still hanker for his one-man-and-a-guitar assault on the World in the 80s. They also of course beg the question as to which version of Bragg is best. My reply is that both the band and solo versions of the songs are worthy on this excellent album.

Not that the solo recordings are necessarily quieter than the full versions with this artist of course. Take the second song I Almost Killed You - the band version has a campfire feel whereas the solo take has loud, punky guitar like it's 1984 all over again. Both versions are excellent. Among the other highlights for me are the literal wordplay of M For Me, highly political O Freedom and Something Happened which dissects the difference between love and lust in two sentences over some of the grungiest guitar ever laid down on a Billy Bragg record.

Musically the key influences on Mr. Love & Justice are classic soul, folk and country rather than the mix of World music to celebrate multicultural Britain and rather less inspiring pub-rock on England Half English.
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Format: Audio CD
Mixing pop and politics...this is a great album; plus some cracking songs exploring the human heart. For example, on the song `M for Me' the topic remains the importance of relationships and compassion, as he sings the delightful couplet: ''I've got friends who are telling me they're living in clover, but lose the c for commitment and the l for love and it's over baby''.

The stand-out track on the album is `I Keep Faith', superbly backed by Robert Wyatt. The band gel far better here than on English, Half English.

This is Bragg's best since 1991's Don't Try This At Home.
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Format: Audio CD
`Mr Love and Justice' feels like the culmination of Billy Bragg's twenty five years as a solo performer with his song writing at it's most subtle since his 1996 album `William Bloke' and the musical accompaniment tutored from his collaborations with American band Wilco and his own backing band of multi-instrumentalists, the Blokes.

The album opens with taster single `I Keep Faith' which is the most polished song on the album and kicks things off nicely. `I Almost Killed You' suffers from the World Music arrangement and percussion but the lyric is it's saving grace. Next up `M for Me' is again lyrically inspired and has a beautiful brass driven arrangement which compliments it.

`The Beach is Free' is wonderfully rockabilly sprint which leads perfectly on to ex-trooper Bragg's take on the second gulf war, `Sing Their Souls Back Home'. `You Make Me Brave' feels like Bragg circa `Don't Try This at Home'. `Something Happened' struggles to make an impact on this record being shoehorned between two songs which are superior in tone and arrangement.

The title song, which doesn't allude to the Colin MacInnes novel of the same title, sits uncomfortably with Bragg's admiration for Woody Guthrie with its `desertion should mean disgrace' message to absentee fathers. `If You Ever Leave' is Bragg possibly as far away from the songs of teenage angst of his early career but it still resonates more than anything Brian Adams and co have ever had at number one.

`O Freedom' is reminiscent of Bragg's `The Internationale' album and gives the listener a sense of familiarity which it then snatches away with `The Johnny Carcinogenic Show' with its brilliant anti-smoking industry message.
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